Through the Adlerian Lens: Oprah Winfrey

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Through an Adlerian Lens: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is a world-renowned businesswoman and entertainer. She first entered the entertainment industry when she was 19 years old by co-anchoring at her local news station. She kept working upwards by hosting radio shows, hosting her own cable television shows, acting in movies, publishing books and magazines, and launching the Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Productions (American Academy of Achievement, 2011). Winfrey is also well known for her philanthropy. She donates a lot of money and time to charitable causes and has even had a school built for girls in Africa. She was not born into this lifestyle. Winfrey made a name for herself through hard work, motivation, and dedication. Oprah Winfrey’s personality can be explained through an Adlerian framework by taking a closer look at the events and relationships she endured throughout her childhood. Superiority Striving

According to Adlerian theory, “the one dynamic force behind people’s behavior is the striving for success or superiority,” (Feist & Feist, 2009, p. 70). There are several factors that may have influenced Winfrey’s feelings of inferiority. These include the sexual abuse and poverty she endured as a child and the fact that she was an African American female born in the South. Her mother did not provide a good home because she was constantly working as a maid and it allowed certain men the opportunity to sexually abuse Winfrey. However, after she gave birth to a child who died soon after, she went to live with her father at the age of 14. He was strict but provided her with the loving and secure home that she needed. Such factors left Winfrey powerless and helpless as a child and left her feeling inferior. In order to overcome these feelings of inferiority, Winfrey began developing a superiority complex in order to gain a sense of self-respect and self-worth. This superiority complex has been expressed in her comments, such as “I always knew I was...
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